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Matteo G.P. Flora

Mi occupo di Analisi e Protezione della Reputazione Online con la mia azienda, oltre che di comunicazione e sicurezza tra Dharma & Data.

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The Song of the LastKnight

The Song of the Last Knight

##by Stefano Lodi #Part I- The Rising of a Myth Henceforth I sing of The Last Knight, who stands to fight all forms of evil with his great unbounded strength, and of his many friends, and of what made him King, a head of state, and of his courage pure, which never ends, and of the things he did when passionate, as Love was burning him. Please pay attention, we’re entering a wonderful dimension… ‘O Lord, all we are thanking thee: 10 You made a Knight who brings Your light. The evil force he’ll face; a horse he’ll have, and bright will shine his might. He has no name, but Evil’s flame he’ll win in fight and stop our fright. 20 He’ll be the Last, the Man, the Best: he’ll know what’s right, he’ll win this night.’ ‘I hear this song, it’s coming from the towers and walls where live the ones who keep the powers. I hear it sung by poor and rich and humble, it is so strong I think the walls might crumble. What’s happening in the castle? Tell me, please!’ ‘A man is rising, that our pains will ease. 30 He’s young and strong and wise and full of pride. The Queen is giving him a horse to ride, a sword to kill, a name: he’ll be a Knight.’ Outside the castle songs were heard till night. Let’s see what was befalling in the halls. The Queen did say: ‘You know that Glory calls just few among the men who serve the king, and for the chosen ones there is a ring. The King had left to kill the Dragon Red: the Beast has widowed me, the King is dead. 40 His Knights preceded him, though filled with fear; they’ve all been slain, their rings were taken here. The Dragon Evil sits upon a hill: we need a Knight, the Dragon Fierce to kill. Nobody has the courage to uphold a sword and by an armour be enfold. But now a man has risen from the land and he is here, you now will see him stand. Arise and leave your seat and come to me.’ ‘My dearest Queen, you know that I will be 50 your Knight, if this you want; so now I kneel before your feet, and kiss your golden seal.’ ‘O pages, bring to me the Holy Sword, and he will be a Knight before our Lord.’ The Holy Sword was brought: it shone and glared and everybody at its brightness stared. It was engraved with holy symbols, made of gold and diamonds; steely was its blade. ‘The prophets told about this day, you know, and legends probably from you will grow.’ 60 ‘I think, my Queen, that great will be my deeds, but they’re so hard: I know that all the seeds will never grow until the Dragon’s slain, and I must bring this land to life again. I am the chosen one, I am the Last of many Knights, all fallen in the past. I have the hardest mission to fulfil: the red and burning blood I have to spill that runs inside the Dragon’s veins and heart. I have to win or we will have no part 70 in future days, because we’ll live no more.’ ‘You say the truth: we’ll live just for your core.’ ‘Then why we talk? We waste our time and wait! Declare I am a Knight, I’ll face my Fate.’ ‘And so this be. I take the Sword and lay its blade upon your shoulders strong and say that you from now must call yourself a Knight.’ The Holy Sword was glistening of light. It warm was felt by him, the Knight just born: he felt its power, heard the bell and horn 80 of Heaven playing for him and then he knew that he had hopes to win the Beast, but few. The Queen now said: ‘The Holy Sword you’ll keep until the Dragon from this land you sweep; and then it will be taken from your hand and you will have it only to defend this castle, kingdom, people and this Queen who made you Knight, as now we all have seen.’ “I’m ready for the fight and proud to leave.” “Well then, the Holy Sword and ring I give 90 to you. This ring was once on great a finger: the strongest of the Knights has been its bringer. It is for you, who stand alone and ride, alone; the Holy Sword is by your side. You’ll leave tomorrow. Now, relax and rest: I offer you this castle, be my guest.” “I thank you, Queen; accepting, I am glad; I’ll eat your tasty meal and go to bed.” The court went happily to long a table, with food on it so good that I’m not able 100 to tell, because I feel by hunger bit. ‘Let’s celebrate this glorious day! Let’s sit and honour all the castlemen that cook!’ The Knight sat down, and chickens first he took, then wine, and every man began to eat. ‘How strong and sweet this wine, how good this meat!’ A song arose from all the sitting men. You want to read it? I will write it, then. ‘We have a Knight who shows the Sun, he is the last, the only one 110 who can defeat the Dragon, cruel, who can defeat It in a duel. Our Kingdom’s greatly suffering for all the flames the Dragon lights. It killed all those who wore a ring: the King himself with all his knights. We don’t know how, we don’t know why, but It has chosen this sweet land: a demon, fallen from the sky; before the Beast no one can stand. 120 The Queen, alone, was forced to choose among her subjects one that could defeat the Dragon, never lose control and split the Beast like wood. She sent her messengers around, they walked and knocked at every door, and now the Warrior has been found: we have new Hope, we fear no more. The prophets said there would have been a man, a Knight, that signs would show; 130 as this was known, a path was seen that led them through the deepest snow and then the meadows and a river; but, after walking, they did find the Chosen by our Lord Forgiver, the Man who’d never stay behind. We have a Knight: he shows the Sun, he is the Last, the Man, the One who will defeat the Dragon, cruel, who must defeat It in a duel.’ 140 ‘Oh, dear. Who wrote these lyrics?’ ‘I did write.’ A man, so thin and tall, whose skin was white, stood up. His hair was long and green his eyes. ‘I am the one to celebrate your rise.’ ‘All right, but tell me: how shall I call you?’ ‘A Poet you can say, this name is true. I am a bard, I have the greatest gift: I write my verses, words that make me lift my soul above the common world and life. But I am sad: I’d like to have a wife.’ 150 ‘O Poet, to the eyes you seem so young, but words of wisdom exeunt from your tongue, and I would like to know you as a friend. I liked your words. I offer you this hand.’ ‘All right. You are my friend. I’ll write your name, to be eternal, on the Book of Fame.’ ‘You say you’ll take me to Eternity?’ ‘I say that both of us will never see, inside the hearts of men, a Death complete. Let’s stop or, hungry, you might face defeat!’ 160 The songs went on till night began to creep around and put the comrades all to sleep. The Knight did sleep, and with the Sun he rose. He saw that on his window was a rose. ‘O flower, tender, delicate and sweet, a victory or Death: what will I meet?’ He sniffed the rose and felt a good sensation: he was the hand of Him who made Creation. His hair was fair; he stared at where the air was golden made by sunshine as his hair. 170 ‘O Lord Almighty, lead me, be my guide. I cannot lose, or I would have to hide from all the men and die to clear my sin. I pray, because I simply have to win. I know I’ll face so many risks, but still I have the hope to find the strength to kill the Dragon, Beast that must have come from Hell. I’ll take revenge for all the knights who fell.’ He waited there till all awoke that morning. ‘We’re in your hands. Avoid another mourning!’ 180 ‘The Holy Sword is ready for the battle. I’ll shake the Dragon’s bones, you’ll hear them rattle.’ ‘I don’t know how, o Knight, you can be sure that you will triumph.’ ‘Well, my soul is pure, my heart is beating hard, my mind is clear; the time of victory is coming near. I need a horse to reach the battlefield, an armour, too; with it, a silver shield.’ ‘O servants, bring the armour and be quick!’ ‘The Dragon’s burning blood I want to lick!’ 190 ‘A storm is coming; I foresee this scene: he’ll fail to face the sight of eyes as green as emeralds, that shine inside your face. You’ll risk your life for all the human race.’ The Knight and Queen went there where horses stay. ‘The time has come of Dragon’s Judgement Day!’ ‘Don’t lose your mind, from which you must remove all signs of fear and every will to move too fast. Remember, he can spit the flame!’ ‘Don’t worry, I can cover It with shame!’ 200 The horse was ready and he mounted it. ‘Remember that you must not lose your wit!’ ‘Don’t worry, Queen; but where’s my armour strong?’ ‘It’s coming!’ ‘All the prophets can’t be wrong. They said there is a man who’s strong enough to win, resistant, merciless and tough. I am this man, of all the Knights the Last. Nobody can be better, I’m the best.’ ‘O mighty Knight, the shield has come for you!’ He saw the shield, that painted was in blue. 210 It showed a picture of an ancient war and said in gold: ‘We live just for your core.’ ‘What’s this?’ ‘For you this silver shield was made. It shows our gratitude that cannot fade.’ ‘Oh, well, it is so beautiful, I feel that I will kill the Dragon with my steel. Its colour is the colour of the sky, where birds and angels live and sing and fly. ‘And now the armour comes that you will wear. ‘I’ll be protected perfectly out there. 220 The Dragon’s blood will spill as does a fountain. I feel so strong that I could break a mountain! I’m ready for the moment of attack. I’ll win the fight and never turn my back. ‘I’ll pray, my Knight, I’ll pray for your return. I hope that all the Dragon’s flames won’t burn. This armour can defend you from the heat. ‘The Dragon’s heart for me will stop its beat.’ ‘You leave, the time to ride your horse is this. To show affection, let me give a kiss 230 to you who leave your house.’ ‘If this you seek. Be quick, I have to reach the Dragon’s peak.’ ‘I hope that this will bring you luck and heal your wounds and what is right to do reveal.’ She touched him gently with her tender lips. ‘And so I leave to kill the Beast that rips the heart of she who rules, who kissed my cheek so kindly that has made me feel so weak that now I cannot say a single word or raise a final prayer to my Lord. 240 I shut my mouth and leave. My Queen, farewell. My mission is to stop this Beast of Hell.’ The horse was called «Destroyer». It was black, of fierce and strength and power had no lack. They rode together to the place where graves were dug for those the Dragon made its slaves. The King was there, the man who had the crown: he had been killed, in Dragon’s flames did drown. The Knight went on and passed through morning dew and fog. A noise he heard, his Sword he drew: 250 it was a peasant. He did ask to him: ‘Who are you, Knight, with sad a face and grim?’ ‘I am the one who’ll save this kingdom, good.’ ‘I thought you were the one who steals my food. You are the Knight, I heard of you, I’m sorry.’ ‘It does not matter, peasant good. Don’t worry.’ He thought: ‘I’m even known among the poor!’ «Destroyer» went on riding through the moor. The Knight rode on for seven nights and days; the Sun did throw to him its many rays 260 and then a Lady shone, she’s called the Moon; she said the final hour would come soon. The Knight with all his heart told God a prayer: ‘My Lord, you save me from the Dragon slayer or I’ll return to where a Life begins, to You, if You forgive me all my sins. Or I will go to Hell and suffer there; but still I hope to close the Dragon’s lair.’ He was afraid of Death, his enemy was just his fear of what he was to see. 270 He came to where the Dragon Evil slept; It woke and moved, to leave its lair It crept. ‘Who is the man who thinks to be so proud to win my force?’ the Dragon cried out loud. ‘I am the Knight who’ll show you what is Death. I followed with this mighty horse the path that led to you, o Dragon with two wings.’ ‘Your weapon is a toy, it simply stings!’ ‘You are a demon, you have brought us sorrow and pain; you’ll never see the sun tomorrow!’ 280 An angel took control of every mind, the way to stop their fight he made them find. ‘I’m not a beast, by Nature I was done!’ ‘You lie! You cannot be our Father’s son!’ ‘I am. I came from distant places and I sat down here; I saw some people stand aggressive, thus I felt I could have died; I simply have defended all my side. You say I’m wrong, so tell me where’s my fault! A King with al his Knights did once assault, 290 you know they’re dead; what ever could I do? I stop, I give the right to speak to you.’ ‘Oh, well, but what are you? I understood that you’re an enemy, not something good, by what I had been told: but now I know you tell the truth. Away my sword I throw. I know you could have burnt me, Dragon, but you didn’t: the door that led to war is shut. But why you tell this things to me just now?’ ‘The King and all his Knights could not allow 300 a Dragon, me, to speak; but they had not the Holy Sword that you, my friend, have brought. It made me feel secure, and thus I spoke. I’ll never turn yourself, with flames, to smoke.’ ‘I can’t believe what’s happening in this time! If I killed you, this deed would be a crime! I feel a higher, holy, mighty force has kept me far away from this remorse.’ ‘And I have felt the same, as if a saint has saved me, too; I think I’m going to faint!’ 310 Oh, well, you have to be astonished, reader, but I don’t know the plans of God, our Leader. I cannot know the future of this story, but I am sure the Knight will find much glory. ‘O Dragon, would you like to wear my saddle?’ ‘You say the truth? Of joy my bones all rattle! I’m glad to be the animal you ride, o Knight that keeps the Right and True inside.’ The Knight then set his horse ‘Destroyer’ free, who ran away, like leaves blown from a tree. 320 ‘O Dragon, we can say from now we’re brothers! We’ll never care of what is said by others. And now let’s fly to where my ride began!’ ‘I’m shedding skin! I come to life again!’ The Dragon’s skin was red and turned to gold! ‘You change! A miracle I’ve just behold!’ It was the sign the Dragon’d turned to good. It spread its wings and flied on every wood and river; he was driven by the one who had to win, but then they both had won! 330 No blood was spilled, the mission was fulfilled; and both their hearts still pulsed, no one was killed. The Knight was proud of riding through the sky; he felt that he from then would never die. ‘Let’s say the things that happened to the Queen! The Sun is shining bright, the grass is green! The people all are happy, what can break this day of joy and mirth, with no mistake?’ #Part II – The Tragedies of Power

The guards upon the towers looked at him returning with the Dragon tamed, not grim. 340 ‘The Knight is back! He rides the Dragon! He has won! From Evil we have been set free!’ He made the Dragon, winged and golden, land. ‘I’m back! This is my home, my mother land.’ The Knight, expecting feasts, did pass the walls, but there for him was nothing. ‘What befalls?’ He heard a voice: ‘The Queen is sick, she’s dying!’ He thought: ‘A madman speaks. He must be lying.’ But then he saw that every face was sad and dim and pale, as if someone was dead. 350 ‘It’s true, my Knight. The Queen is very sick. I’m here to take you to her rooms. Be quick! This horse is yours.’ ‘Your name I want to know!’ ‘I’m Captain Strator.’ White was he, like snow. They rode together quickly to the Queen. The clouds were covering the Sun’s bright sheen. The servants let the Knight come in. He ran much faster than a common, normal man. The Queen was lying in bed. ‘My Knight, are you…?’ ‘I’m back!’ ‘I’m suffering!’ ‘I suffer, too! 360 I’m like a rose: I shine one day, then wither. I have no trunk, my stalk is thin and lither. I’m leaving life because of a disease. My heartbeats soon are going to stop, to cease.’ ‘Is there no cure?’ ‘There are no hopes for me. Before my nobles, here I state: you’ll be… the King. This land is yours. Don’t say a word. Respect my choice. My soul is now a bird, it’s free to fly to Heaven. Let me die. The sceptre you must hold, and on the throne 370 you’ll sit. But now I leave this world alone.’ She breathed her last breath. ‘My Queen, goodbye.’ ‘The Queen had chosen her sepulchre; let her body rest and be by tears made wet.’ ‘I order this. And mourning in the nation will last three days. Let’s pray for her salvation. A tune of Death be written, that we’ll sing. That’s all. These are the orders of the King. The bards… the Poet: call him , make him write.’ He poured his weeping ink on paper white. 380 - We cry: the Queen is dead. The World itself is sad. - The Queen has left from life, she’s stopped the endless strife, a widow was, and wife, and cries of pain are spread. - We cry: the Queen is dead. The World itself is sad. - O Death, you took the Queen! The grass, it won’t be green 390 in spring; a squalid scene we’ll see, becoming mad. - We cry: the Queen is dead. The World itself is sad. - Her subjects felt her need. With her, the weakest seed had chance to grow. We bleed, and soon we’ll have no bread. - We cry: the Queen is dead. The World itself is sad. - 400 The Queen, o Death, you took! A sage, his head he shook. ‘She’ll live inside the book of History’, he said. - We cry: the Queen is dead. The World itself is sad. - The happy voices die and even from the sky the angels seem to cry: I see them in my head. 410 - We cry: the Queen is dead. The World itself is sad. - You took the Queen, o Death! Her time has come. She hath exhaled her latest breath, the last; from her has fled. - We cry: the Queen is dead. The World itself is sad. - The Queen is dead, but when she’ll come and rule again, 420 this ballad every man will sing and he’ll be glad. - We cry: the Queen is dead. The World itself is sad. - ‘I want to know -of pain I must get rid- the mates I’m going to spend my living with.’ The lords were six: with him, they all were seven; and twelve the ladies; all were sent by Heaven. ‘O Knight, the Queen has chosen you as King, you’ll win this deadly winter with your spring.’ 430 ‘You are my counsellors, we rule together. We’ll face the future as we face the weather: we cannot know what’s going to happen, nor we see the principles we’re living for. We still can pray for God, you too, my mate; we all can hope to face a prosper fate. We have not any sign of future yet; the stars are going to shine on us, I bet! I share with you, companions, all my hope; I think that future hides a downward slope.’ 440 ‘I see you rather optimistic, sire; but now, like ducks, we slobber in the mire. The kingdom must be held, we cannot lose control; I fear your subjects will accuse his Majesty of stealing throne and crown. The moral in the guards is falling down. We risk rebellion, riot, revolution and you might lose your head in execution!’ ‘Don’t worry that so much! I have no fear: the spirit of the Queen is always near.’ 450 ‘The spirits cannot show and talk to us, we can’t control this way the lower class.’ ‘I’m sure the guards will never leave their duty. The Queen has gone away with all her beauty, she told me to be king: you saw the fact. We won’t tell now the truth, for less impact. We must prepare the ground. No one should speak. We’ll keep this secret till your fear is weak.’ ‘You’re right, my king. It seems the correct choice. From everybody here will come no voice.’ 460 And so they did. A funeral was set and all the faces were by tears made wet. The seven held the power in the reign, they stood like mountains beaten by the rain. The kingdom was in perfect law and order, but sounds of war were coming from the border. A neighbour kingdom was aggressive, fierce; its troops were trained through lines of foes to pierce. The King, one day, decided to prepare for war: he made new swords and armours glare. 470 He called his captains. ‘Soon this peace will stop. The scythe will mow my men instead of crop. Another form of evil is aggressive: the number of the foes is so impressive. We must prepare for war against this rival. You soldiers have to grant us all survival. You know the situation we must face. I want to lead the troops, to set the pace. The news is bad: the enemies are close, the smell of war is coming to my nose. 480 I ask you, captains: are my soldiers ready?’ ‘Your men are tough; they’ll stand as mountains steady.’ ‘All right. The Dragon, he will take me to the skies. He certainly will be a great surprise! Tonight I saw this battle in a vision: a victory. I’ve taken the decision to go to war with signs of sure success! We must not feel the sign of any stress. We’ll go tomorrow to the battlefield. We go to win. The enemies must yield.’ 490 The morning after, they began to move. Their courage and their skills they were to prove. Before the night descended, they set up the tents inside the camp. Of wine a cup they rose to Victory: a toast they made, as Night was hiding everything in shade. They saw the foes extinguishing their fire. The battle everybody did desire. They went to sleep. The King that night did dream: he saw the Dragon drowning in a stream, 500 which took him to a gloomy, roaring well. The Dragon was with him, but hidden well. The King woke up in fright, no more he slept but then the fear of Death away he swept. The morning after showed the Sun as red as blood, with which the ground would soon be fed. The sky was clear, there was no sign of cloud. The soldiers were prepared, they were so proud. The enemies were ready with their maces. ‘We’ll clear that smile appearing on your faces!’ 510 The trumpets on both sides did sound the charge. The army of the foes was very large. The weapons and the armours met with clash, as if the Moon into the Sun did smash. The King then ordered: ‘Set my Dragon free!’ The Dragon spread his wings, the foes did flee. The King himself impended with his shape. The foes were burnt, nobody could escape. But then the sky turned dead and cold and black, from many clouds came down a noisy crack. 520 The King and Dragon, targets of a lightning, were hit: the scene the soldiers saw was frightening. The foes were strengthened, seeing the Dragon fall; a wizard, one among the foes, did call the heavy tempest that was taking form; ‘A terrible surprise for us, this storm! The Dragon was my secret weapon, while the foes did hide a storm: I feel fragile.’ The King was still alive: that’s what he thought. ‘By whom to lead a war I have been brought? 530 By me. I’ve taken all my men to slaughter. I’ll die without an heir, a son or daughter.’ ‘You cannot die, my King’: the Dragon spoke. His wings, still moving, rose a cloud of smoke. ‘Let’s fly back home! Today, we must surrender! The correct choice is this, my good commander.’ ‘You’re right. I have to order the retreat, or I would have to face defeat complete.’ He flied again and shouted: ‘Quick, retire! Defeat is not a thing to which aspire!’ 540 The soldiers, luckily, were not in slumber; they hastened back, with their decreasing number. They were one half of what they’d been before. ‘Where was today the God that we adore?’ ‘Too many have been killed, too many died; a lot of them was looking for a bride. Perhaps in Heaven they will find some joy.’ ‘Shut up! I know, I hoped we could destroy the enemy today, but I was shocked by seeing their storm: my senses all were blocked 550 by terror. Now, my courage I can find. A plan is taking form inside my mind. Inside the foemen’s camp I want to creep and stop the wizard that my men did sweep.’ ‘A good idea, my King! You show no fright! ‘I don’t deserve that name, so call me Knight.’ ‘My Knight, if thus you want, the problem’s double: their leader is another cause of trouble. You have to kill them both.’ ‘But tell me: why? I want them to retire, not to die! 560 My kingdom must uphold the flag of peace. The tree of human kind, of it they’re piece. I have no right to slay another man. Shut up and listen, please: I have a plan. My wizards have prepared for me a potion: when someone drinks of it, he has no motion for many days. This fact is not outrageous as Death itself, but I must be courageous. Disguised in black, I’ll run across the meadows before their field, protected by the shadows 570 of Night: I’ll be invisible. I swear I’ll do it, on the name of Knight I bear.’ ‘My Knight, I think you are a bit insane.’ ‘A human life I want to not profane.’ ‘But this is war! Some people have to die!’ ‘You’re wrong! I want an answer, captain: why?’ ‘Because in every war some blood is shed!’ ‘But wars are always wrong. My blood is red and flowing: life is right.’ ‘But war exists…’ ‘It does not matter: hands must not be fists. 580 This life that runs away’s our greatest gift.’ ‘You make me think my thoughts on life should shift. You have to go, my Knight, and let the stars enlighten you and heal of war the scars.’ The Knight put on his cloak and leather boots, then moved. A sudden noise: he cracked some roots. ‘I must make well my steps.’ He lit a lamp which sent a feeble light, and left his camp. The guards saluted him. He went out running. ‘I cannot run: I have to be more cunning.’ 590 His heart was beating strong and very fast. ‘Of all the Knights, I am the best, the last.’ He had to find his courage in his soul. ‘With pride and strength enough I am the sole. I must complete this mission. O my Lord, I ask you for a good, comforting word. I pray, just give to me a little sign. Defeat of Victory: what will be mine?’ He saw a little comet fall and glare. ‘A word of praise is coming from the air! 600 I thank you, Father! You have heard my call. I feel You by my side: I cannot fall.’ He moved. As he was looking for an entry, he tried to find a place without a sentry. ‘I cannot find a breach in their protection. They might have even powers of detection.’ He wanted to get back, but every guard did move at once. ‘A song… it is the Bard! My friend has followed me! He must be crazy! But why am I still here? I can’t be lazy! 610 I have to use this opportunity! So many ways are opening for me!’ He ran from where he was and reached a gate. ‘They might wake up. I hope it’s not too late!’ The camp was still in silence. On he went. ‘The captain must be in the biggest tent!’ He moved his steps to reach the biggest one which stood alone; with wood and skins ‘twas done. His nerves were breaking for that intense tension. He moved towards the tent of great dimension. 620 ‘I’m here. The time has come. I must get in. Be God with me. Well, this is not a sin. A sleeping poison offers Victory: it is a perfect key to History. I cannot fail. I won’t.’ He moved inside the tent, his potion hanging by his side. ‘He sleeps. But now, how can I make him drink?’ His fear showed him an abyss: on the brink he was, and falling; flames were all around. He frightened when he heard of chains a sound. 630 He heard a voice: ‘The Bard! He has been taken! If I leave him, my name will be forsaken!’ He found new strength. He poured his poison deep into the throat of his foe, who did sleep. ‘I’ve made it! Now I have to find the mage, who killed my men. I’m blindenèd by rage! I want revenge! I have to clear my thought, or like my friend to chains I will be brought. I must be quiet. Noises would awake the mage, who bites and kills as does a snake.’ 640 He left the tent. ‘The problem is: in which of all the tents is he?’ As dark as pitch was night; a star, alone but bright, did shine. It showed a symbol on a tent. ‘He’s mine! He must be there! I recognise that flag! It’s kept not well, it seems a humble rag, but it’s the sign of killing wizards! I’ve seen it before! That’s where I have to dive!’ He went into the tent and poured his drink into his open mouth. ‘In chains you’ll sink! 650 And now I have to find my friend. He must be kept in chains and falling into dust. I have to find him, then we will escape.’ He left the gloomy tent. ‘I see a shape… A soldier! Quick, somewhere I have to hide! Outside remaining is a suicide!’ He visited the mage again, but… ‘No! The soldier’s coming here! How could I know? Where can I hide? Perhaps behind this chest…’ The soldier came. ‘O wizard, stop your rest! 660 We have a prisoner who does not speak!’ The mage awoke. ‘Uh… Soldier, I feel weak…’ He tried to move, but could not find his strength. ‘I need more sleep.’ He lied in all his length. ‘My sire, we can’t wait.’ ‘So call your king! I feel so tired! Songs of sleep I sing.’ ‘Well, then, goodbye. See you tomorrow.’ ‘‘Bye.’ The wizard slept. ‘I’m still alive! The sky has sent an angel just for me! … But still the Bard is kept as prisoner. My will 670 is just to set him free and go back home.’ He left the tent ant through the tents did roam. Eventually, he heard the Bard’s strong voice. ‘But you can talk or die. You have the choice.’ ‘Your torture does not frighten me at all.’ ‘Your courage’s great, my friend. You don’t appal.’ ‘I’m not a friend of yours, you ugly beast!’ ‘What sense of humour! I’ll prepare a feast!’ ‘That’s him! My greatest friend! I feel so proud!’ But then he heard his voice that shouted loud. 680 ‘You suffer! This is giving me much pleasure!’ The Knight blew up: his rage had passed the measure. He ran in, saw the guard and knocked him down. ‘The Knight!’ ‘My friend, it’s me! Why do you frown?’ ‘You risked too much!’ ‘I cannot leave a friend inside the foemen’s clawèd killing hand!’ ‘You’re much too kind to me!’ ‘You have to tell my story to the world!’ ‘I hear a bell!’ ‘They must have found their captain and their mage! Let’s run back home!’ ‘Good choice! You are a sage!’ 690 ‘Your sense of humour is not lost! Good sign!’ ‘We cannot wait!’ ‘You’re right, dear friend of mine! Escaping is the end of my great plan!’ The Bard was injurèd, but quickly ran. ‘You’re tough!’ ‘The cause of all this strength is fear! Let’s keep on running, enemies are near!’ Some guards pursued them: none did ride a horse. The hunted felt in them a higher force that made them run so fast to safer places. They were two men that God’s good arm embraces. 700 They rushed. The Sun was rising from afar. ‘The Sun! Our Father’s showing us his star!’ That star was rising on the men who won: the Knight, the Poet, brothers of the Sun. They found their captains anxious. ‘Bard! You’re here!’ ‘I am a Poet, and I need a beer! I’m hurt, I need the taste of strongest ale.’ ‘It cannot heal your wounds! You are too pale! You need a doctor!’ ‘Why? I’m here at home! I feel I’m safe! A doctor with a tome 710 can help, but home is what doth really heal! So make me feel at home!’ ‘It can’t be real! Your body’s very strong, as is your mind!’ ‘I’m proud of my best friend, he is not blind! He sees beyond the common things; a lot of men can’t do the same. He’s got…’ ‘Don’t praise me, Knight. You’re generous too much. You’re real a Knight, you must be known as such. You saved my life by risking yours. I owe my life to you. This is a fact to know!’ 720 ‘Let’s stop: I hear a noise of weapons, close.’ ‘A gang of foes approaches!’ ‘Don’t oppose!’ The enemies were few, and no one had a mace or sword. ‘We come in peace!’ They read: ‘As King, I ask for mercy. One of you has poisoned me. I cannot move. I say you’ve won. I hope your name to see upon this treaty, which is calling for Peace. I say I’ve lost. 730 And yesterday our men were falling: a life is high a cost. I understand that killing men is wrong. I want to live. I hope, dear King, we’ll meet again as friends, one day. Forgive my will for war: I was insane. I knew your Queen was dead: your kingdom seemed a land to gain with little blood to shed. 740 I ask for mercy. Let’s be friends, as neighbours all should be. I want a peace that never ends. Please, write your name for me.’ The Knight was shocked. ‘He seems sincere. All right, I’ll sign.’ He wrote these words: ‘The King Last Knight.’ That was his name. ‘This war is over. Yes! We must be some of those that God did bless. A feast I want to celebrate this day! The castle waits for us: let’s go away!’ 750 The captains and the soldiers happy were to see their families again. ‘Yes, sir! This order is the best to get; I’m glad to go back home and sleep in my own bed.’ They put away the objects of destruction to take again the tools of food production. The normal situation had returned, although the wounds of war still deeply burned. The dead were honourèd by all the others. ‘Goodbye forever. God, accept these brothers. 760 These soldiers died for You and for their nation. Please keep their souls, until the Reincarnation.’ #Part III – The Kingdom A lot of all the soldiers lived in farms. The nobles put away, like them, the arms. Who were the noblemen, who helped the King? The six I’ve told about. I want to bring these characters to you, to make them live beyond their life. This hope you can forgive. Their lives beyond the gates of Time can spread. The noblemen were six, as I have said. 770 The Bard was one: he’s known. To write he chose and had the laws respected all. The nose another noble had was source of smiles. His skin, his hair, his eyes were dark as piles of coal. Another one sometimes was vicious: he loved his smoke and drinks and foods delicious; but, after all, his heart was good. His eyes showed this: they were as blue as highest skies. He also loved to play his instrument: guitar, of which he was a monument. 780 And one was small and witty: dark his hair, and so his eyes. A smile was always there upon his face. Another one was tall, green-eyed and brown-long-haired; he heard the call of Music as the Bard heard that of writing. The last good man refused the most exciting events of Life. He had a strange behaviour. Some people thought he talked with God the Saviour. His eyes were shining bright and showed his pride. His hair was brown. Few times he did decide. 790 Their names were: Mecker, Haden, Thross, Egunt and Köx. Their minds, which ruled, were never blunt. The women, twelve they were, before I wrote. They all were women good, on whom to dote. Reyenn had copper hair; she was green-eyed and fatty, but sincere: she’d never lied. Beriane was tall; black hair her head did cover; blue-eyed, of sweets and pets she was a lover. Briky was black in hair and eyes and nice; her body was of Beauty a device. 800 The blonde Shekenn was not so bright, but she was sensitive; her dark eyes, vast as sea. Like her was Chie, whose eyes instead were bright: so was her joyful heart; her world was right. Then there was Baecie, whose brown hair was long and curled; her eyes were splendid, good, not strong. Lyrinn had golden hair; her eyes were dark; she left in those who saw her face a mark. Tallyé, like her, had eyes of black; her hair was like dark gold; her heart was sweet and fair. 810 Sophenn was prosperous, with eyes of green and brown-red hair, and clever as the Queen. Prigue was small, with short fair hair, and thin; her shining eyes showed all her thoughts within. Theilenn had dark long hair and eyes; with Nature she loved to stay, which made her thoughts be mature. Radyell had shorter hair, but it was brown like hers; her em’rald eyes did never frown. Some verses to each one I dedicate; I was inspired by my life, I state. 820 They may be not the Truth, but Poesy, completely, can’t reflect Reality. What happens now? You want some more events. I’ll try to write about new incidents. The noblemen were coming back from war. ‘You saved us, Knight: we live just for your core.’ ‘I’ve made my duty. Nothing else. I need some peace and rest, and something good to read.’ ‘I’ll try to write a song, like writers old, about this kingdom, happy, never cold, 830 so full of life, with angry people scarce.’ ‘I wish you wrote a comedy, a farce.’ ‘I see, my Knight. You want to laugh a lot! Well then. I’ll try to write a happy plot. But not today. I need events of joy, such as a girl who tries to find a boy to live with, or the opposite. Such plays are great as masterpieces, people says. But this is not the time to write. Not yet.’ ‘I’ll wait for you to write your play. I bet 840 it will be great.’ This story cannot keep a plot inside; but, if we see more deep, we find this story is a tragedy. I want to put somewhere a comedy. The tone is still so bitter, some have died; I need some happiness. Some man a bride must find. But this is not the truth. I said I based myself on my own life: it’s sad, but I’m alone. I can’t give happiness, not yet. But I must do someday, I guess. 850 Some character will find the satisfaction of Love, the strangest chemical reaction. I still don’t know what does the future hide, just little I am able to decide. The present brought just hopes that fell in vain. This story is a written form of pain. This story, thus, will never make you laugh. About the plans I have I’ve said enough. I see the Bard has promised you a song. This one’s like Dante’s ones, if I’m not wrong… 860 Through all the parts, the rhyme scheme is a link. You’re going to hear a rhythm new, I think. Happy this kingdom, where lives the Last Knight! He is the King, and he rules with no fear. Blue are the sky and the ocean that here fill the horizon and please every eye. Sweet is the wind in the darkness of night; white is the light that the sky lets, so clear, come from the lady, the Moon, so sincere. Nothing is gloomy: you know I don’t lie. 870 Flowers are growing and never will die under the sunshine that covers this land; trees through the ages victorious will stand. Nothing is evil beneath such a sky: everything’s perfect. I’m telling, I swear, true words of praise, as my joy I can’t bear. The King, the Last Knight, is ruling alone: the Queen, who had died, assigned him the crown; he legally got the power. We drown in tears as we think the Queen is now dead. 880 A dragon had widowed her: on the throne she sat with no one; her hopes fell all down. The Knight won the beast; by God he was shown the way to defeat the Dragon big, red. He tamed with the help of God, as I said, the Dragon, whose skin form red turned to gold: a miracle was this fact just been told. They flied to the castle, happy and glad; the Queen, she was dying: a withering flower. She gave to the Knight the crown and the power. 890 The greatest mourning has given this land as King the Last of the Knights. We can see the sky, the sun, all the stars and the sea because he saved all this land from damnation. The seven nobles, together they stand with twelve the ladies; and joined they will be forever, always: from guilt they are free. They fill with joy all the hearts in the nation. Afraid was people of plague and starvation when she, the Queen, died: all hopes seemed to fall. 900 The Last of Knights heard from Heaven a call. He had the power to take to salvation all men. He also is known as a hero because he fights with a fear number’d zero. How happy this kingdom where lives the Last of Knights! He’s the King, and you know him well. You ought to come here: if you cast a spell perhaps you might find what is happiness. The door is not closed to come here: just cast a spell in your dreams and you’ll break the shell 910 of Real. I have followed this way I tell to come to this world, where the fears are less. The Kings lead their pawns, like a game of chess: this world is a tale, but, like chess, they fight: the Foe is the Evil, the King’s the Knight. The faces of people, big smiles do dress, because they can work and they’re free to live: by doing what they feel, they make joy arrive. Song, please go and steal the hearts of all men: make them dream and feel some joy and relief 920 from the daily sufferings: be a thief, gentle, noble, clever, cunning and good. Song, please bring Imagination again to the minds of men who say days are brief when they work as slaves, or maybe as chiefs: they must rest and dream or bad is their mood. Song, please go to those who have understood why the King Last Knight is fighting: they need his example as of Courage a seed. Song, find those who think this story is good: 930 you’re for them. I hope they like you, your law made of rhythm and of rhymes I did draw. It’s over. Well, what do you think? I hope I’ve written well: with verses I did cope. It’s over now; let’s try to find events. The Knight… he was back home, with compliments. His people all was proud of him; his name was called around, and brought to him great fame. His strength and wisdom could deserve belief; the reign was prospering, with such a chief. 940 One day, a fact occurred. The Knight awoke and found his room was hidden all by smoke. His eyes were burning; he could hardly find some air to breathe; he thought he would get blind. He found the window, opened it and air blew in. The wind was like a woman fair, who kissed his face with fresh and soft a kiss and brought him life. ‘I was about to miss my life! What made this smoke? I was so close to Death! What flame or blaze this all did cause?’ 950 His servants came, the flames were washed away. ‘This seems to be the dawn of one bad day!’ The Knight was shocked. They took him to the throne; still frightenèd, the Knight began to moan. ‘If I had died!…’ ‘But you’re alive, my sire!’ ‘You know I might have died in such a fire!’ ‘Somebody would have taken on the reign.’ ‘My friend, comforting word you need not feign! I’m much too young to die! Who would forsake my name? Nobody’s tears my death would take! 960 I want to leave a sign of me through time, that men will know forever, like a rhyme; I need a lady by my side, a Queen to tame my heart; you know what I can mean.’ Part IV – Insanity and Redemption

From now another story I must start, about the Last Knight’s love. I hope that Art will lead me on this path, so steep, so long. To tell about this passion, here’s a song. - What feeling great is Love! It holds all human hearts from high above! - 970 A part of Love is red: this force that fights, like eagles, peace of mind is Passion, driving mad; it takes control an makes our reason blind. Its nails our torments spread, it prowls us till some one to love we find. It brings the greatest joys and pains assigned to human life and forces us to move. - What feeling great is Love! It holds all human hearts from high above! - 980 A part of Love is white and comes from mind, which seeks for satisfaction. Of sentiment in spite, we cannot live with one who’s not reflection of us: a pain would bite, tormenting psyche, leaving out perfectioin. Aesthetic choices ought to rule attraction; the eagle must be beaten by the dove. - What feeling great is Love! It holds all human hearts from high above! - 990 A part of Love, it’s clear, is bodily: it’s physical desire. Not only lust is here, there are aspect and gestures kind. The fire of Passion, I’m sincere, is lit by Beauty, which can never tire. The right aspect frees mind from pain and ire; caresses, kisses, hugs affection prove. - What feeling great is Love! It holds all human hearts from high above! - 1000 This ballad, short, was made by me to keep for you my thoughts, which time perhaps won’t sweep. The Knight looked for a woman, who could soothe his killing need of Love, with hands silk-smooth to touch, with eyes to gaze, with thoughts to share and with a lovely sentiment to care. To tell the truth, his passion made him think of all nice girls: his eyes in them did sink. He could not choose but listen to their voices so full of charm for him: he had no choices. 1010 The servants saw the Knight’s behaviour change. ‘I wonder why the King is now so strange.’ ‘I know th reason why the king seems stupid! A dart was thrown; an angel threw it: Cupid! All women’s eyes do launch to him this arrow, which, as you know, a human heart can harrow. He must get mad, unless he comes to choose the woman best to turn his senses loose.’ ‘You can explore his soul as deep as mine!’ ‘There’s nothing wrong: he’s just a friend of mine.’ 1020 This servant, tall and strong, with eyes of dark, could see in him of Love the clearest mark. The Knight could hardly eat or drink or sleep: the scars that Love had spread were much too deep. It took him lots of days to choose a girl. Radyell: on her his choices stopped to twirl. She was no more transcending, like a vision, but down on Earth, when he took his decision. That day he found Radyell alone. He moved to her and said: ‘Radyell, you’re my beloved.’ 1030 His heart was like a… nuclear reactor. ‘I don’t pretend or lie, I’m not an actor!’ She gazed at him with great astonishment. He spoke these words with all his sentiment. ‘No love was ever strong as mine for you; you are the one who makes my soul complete; an angel, come from Heaven, made us meet; to Nature’s skills of art your charm is due. You come to Earth as light as morning dew; you breathe a healing breeze, so warm and sweet; 1040 your heart and mine in synchrony do beat; perfection as in thee I never knew. With you, my love and life would last forever; you stole my mind, I cannot think nor act; you hold my heart, in your good hands it lies. Just yield and let my mind again be clever! Your love would be for me a sacred pact! Grant thou and we shall pass the seven skies!’ Radyell, a bit surprised, began to muse then said: ‘I’m sorry, Knight, but I refuse. 1050 You’re not the kind of man with whom I’d live.’ ‘What’s wrong in me? What sin you can’t forgive?’ ‘I fear the passion eating through your brain; irrationaltiy I really fear; beside your burning flame, my roots would sear; a blaze like this can not be stopped by rain. Your passion is a great, tormenting strain: let Mind be strong as Heart or you will tear; I know your heart is good and pure and dear, but it’s too loose: your reason it can drain. 1060 I don’t need love as you: I want to wait and choose with calm the one who’ll live with me. I’d rather live alone than with the wrong one. We can be simply friends, but even great. Your heart shall open with another key. By someone else will be your heart, so strong, won.’ The Knight could hardly bear this heavy shock. ‘Your sober heart is rough as rigid rock!’ He growled these angry words. He drew his blade and said: ‘I want my soul away to fade!’ 1070 ‘Don’t kill yourself or you’ll be damned! Do stop!’ ‘You still dare talk? My sword I shall not drop!’ ‘But think of all the things that you would leave!’ ‘You have no voice for me! Why should I live?’ ‘You are beside yourself! Relax and think!’ ‘This sword is now a pen, my blood is ink.’ He hit his leg. She launched herself on him. ‘Inside a pool of blood I want to swim!’ ‘Remember: you’re a King! You rule a land!’ ‘I do not care! But… don’t you understand? 1080 No man can live with Death inside his heart! You’ve just killed me! A murderess thou art!’ His eyes were flashing. ‘Knight, you’re crazy! Why you want to die? You simply have to try again with someone else. There is a star somewhere for you, and maybe not too far.’ ‘Don’t try to hold me or I’ll kill you too!’ The Knight escaped from her. ‘You’re full of rue. Your eyes are red of blood because your pride turned Passion into Will of Suicide. 1090 You don’t need anger, but another chance. Let your good sense again be your defence. If Love’s a game, just roll again the dice!’ ‘You would not understand my sacrifice.’ He dropped his sword. ‘I cannot choose but thee; but you don’t see, and thus I have to flee.’ The Knight began to run. He was insane. He left his castle and his good twelve friends. They tried to stop him, but it wais in vain. ‘This is the moment when my story ends. 1100 The Devil’s haunting me, I am in Hell! I leave, my brothers! Don’t you wave your hands! Since I must die, what else is there to tell? The one who waits for me is now my grave. I want to go where other people fell.’ He reached a battlefield, where soldiers brave had died: their corpses lay still there, all dead. ‘Of Love, the heart-destroyer, I’m a slave.’ The Knight then felt a pressure in his head. He rushed to all directions, here and there: 1110 by his insanity the Knight was led. He spoke some nonsense words; he drew a square and said ‘That’s her!’ and then he did blaspheme; he tried to beat down trees just like a bear. (I’m sorry but my words are like a stream: they can’t be stopped. They form the wrong rhyme scheme: to ask for your excuses I must dare.) ‘Where is my sword? It certainly was lost. These wooden beasts are hard, with my hands bare, to fight: but luckily they’re stopped by frost.’ 1120 He ran around and, in this sort of flight, he crossed his kingdom. What he fearèd most were those he met and greeted him as Knight. ‘What is a Knight? I never have seen one!’ ‘But you’re a Knight and King, a guiding light!’ ‘You joke! I’m not such thing! Your mind is gone!’ and then he fled again; in him, just grief. He could not find a rest: he had to run, as sharks must swim. His heart had no relief. Some voices grew on him: ‘The Knight is crazy!’ 1130 The people had no more a guide, a chief. The workers stopped to work or went on lazy. ‘We need to see our leader: where is he?’ The Knight was erring still, by rivers mazy that from the springs went flowing to the sea. He saw the sea. Some rain began to drop. He dived and felt the water all around. Outside, the fall of water did not stop. A thunder then, with its exploding sound, did crack the sky. ‘A bell in me now chimes!’ 1140 It was his Reason which no more was bound. (I’m writing now again the correct rhymes. I hate to make this kind of big mistake: it even migth be put among the crimes.) The Knight, who saw again, his breath did take and sat upon the sand; his eyes were dim: he closed his eyes and slept for sleeping’s sake. When he woke up, the sun was high on him: he realised that he had slept one day; then in his conscience he began to swim. 1150 ‘O God, what have I done? What can I say? My mind had gone because of Passion’s claw, to Reason I no longer could obey. I acted free from any mortal law, morality was not my guide at all because Radyell’s enchanting eyes I saw. It turn’d me loose from Common Sense’s call. Her beauty took my senses and my heart, but in my arms she did refuse to fall. That pain tore all my self from part to part 1160 and drove me crazy: Love was then my master, controlling all my mind, which was so smart. And then the thunder came to save me, faster than light: it was the holy light of Reason that God has sent to save me from disaster. It was my passion that brought mind to treason; my love was strong much more than I could drink: it sotted me, and lasted for a season. The thunder’s sound was briefer that a wink; it cracked the sky and then, I wonder why, 1170 my thoughts came back, as fallen from a brink. I see again the sun that shines up high; it shows the path that leads me back to home but I won’t follow it: I’d rather die! I think, instead, that I shall mix with foam and, free from her, I’ll play with waves a game, or I shall work a plain of fruitful loam. If I came back, I’d cover’d be with shame: nobody wants a King with flames inside; no King or Knight I am: I change my name. 1180 I’ll live alone. The Moon will be my bride: I’ll sing for her and she will answer not, yet she’ll shine more than her for whom I died. My home will be a cavern never hot; I’ll live respecting Nature, God’s creation, the living and unliving things, their plot. I must forget that once I led a nation: that life is gone and never shall be back; they’ll find, for my behaviour, explanation. The colour of my heart is gloomy black; 1190 I’ll find my peace in God, who loves all men who trust in Him: and thus my soul won’t crack. A hermit I will be, inside my den, a hole cut deep in rock: a house of stone, abandoned by some beast, will mine be when I find it: and I’ll live in peace, alone, divided from mankind, which hurt me so, and I will feed on what’s by Nature done. When I meet Death, I’ll cover’d be by snow: it gently shall descend on me; no urn 1200 will keep my ashes, but no one will know. As I decided that I won’t return, the memory of me will slowly fade like fallen yellow leaves in flames they’ll burn. I’ll turn to dust, because of dust we’re made: the wind will blow my body to the wild where I was born. I’ll rest behind the shade of the familiar tree that, as a child, I used to climb: I’ll see its leafy face, and birds will sing for me their songs so mild. 1210 It’s Death the destiny of human race: we have to face it with a mind still clear, we can’t forget a grave’s the final place. Alone with my religion, I won’t fear the storms of life that tempt my soul to sin; I’ll live in sanctity. God might appear! I realise that chills now bite my skin; I need to hie to find for me a house, or ice will break my body from within. I need a hole to sleep in, like a mouse.’ 1220 He wander’d through some hills and mountains steep for many weeks. His luck did not arouse. Eventually, he found a cavern deep enough to hide him, fresh and strangely clean, where he could store the food he found and sleep. He also tried to cultivate some bean: it grew. Outside his cavern plants grew well; he made a garden, little but not lean. Nobody ever came to see his shell: the place was far away from every town. 1230 He put his water in his private well. ‘I am in Heaven: all the seeds I’ve sown have fastly grown; there’s water, food; I rest without disturb; disasters don’t fall down. I never see the things I might detest: a human being, a beast, a plague, a gale. I’m sure that this condition is the best. The Moon is watching me, it is so pale yet splendid, shining, sending beams and tears; as long as she’s with me, I cannot fail. 1240 Inside my cavern I will stay for years; I’m safe. Outside, the sun would show my scars that she, Radyell, traced: here I have no fears, and here I’ll stay forever with those stars.’ Those stars were watched by all his friends, eighteen, in that same moment: how those stars were seen! ‘I’ve found that dreams must never turn to real or they would stop to have their strong appeal. She was a dream that never could be true; I understand my fate: the love that grew 1250 in me was much too strong, she could not yield to me, she used morality as shield to keep herself secure from my attack: and this was right, but sombre, deeply black. It gave my heart an ache, but now I’m healed: my Lord his will for me has just revealed. The kind of life most suitable for me is that of hermit: well, that’s what I’ll be. My dreams could not be true, they were utopia; I can see this: I’m healed from my myopia.’ 1260 Part V – Falling into Darkness

In those same moments, all the nobles were deciding how to take the Knight back there. ‘He cannot stay so far away from us, unless he found a fertile ground and thus he can pick fruits from Nature as a child: he might be anywhere among the wild.’ ‘I don’t think so. His homesickness must sting: he’ll come back home as birds all do in spring.’ ‘I wonder if his Sword can be a guide…’ ‘The Holy Sword! Of course! ‘Twas by his side, 1270 there is a link between the two. The Sword is here. Let’s hope it answers to my word. O Sword, please take us to the Knight! You know where he did go!’ The Sword began to glow. ‘It’s hot!’ The Sword was thrown down to the floor. ‘I’ve never seen a scene like this before!’ The Sword was throwing flames to one direction. It flied upon them. Power of detection it had: the Knight was found. The men did follow, the women stayed, to keep the throne not hollow. 1280 ‘The Sword is surely led by holy forces!’ The noblemen were led to take their horses. ‘What’s happening?’ The Dragon, just awaken, said this. ‘We’ll find, unless we have mistaken the sign, the Knight!’ ‘Oh! Let me come with you!’ ‘He might be used to cross the sky of blue!’ ‘All right, then. Dragon, follow just the fire.’ ‘The path is shown! I’m riding on a wire!’ The dragon flied, the nobles cried ‘Beware! He files so fast that he can blast the air!’ 1290 ‘Horse-riders, you are slow! Do take a ride on me and stride! This cannon hurt your pride!’ ‘You’re right! Let’s waste no time! Let’s fly together!’ They put on him their saddles made of leather. ‘Let’s go!’ And on they went. I need not say some other things: they flied, for one whole day. It’s true that I don’t feel the need of actions, I much prefer to write about reflections. Eventually, the Knight was found and shocked. ‘You here?! By nothing ever you were blocked?’ 1300 ‘The Holy Sword has shown the path to you.’ ‘So you are here. I cannot stand it’s true. My friends, I pray: please, go away. My reign is yours, you’re kings! Your presence brings me rain.’ ‘Your soul is wounded deep. You need a balm. My words shall be the ones that keep you calm.’ ‘I’ll never go to what was once my house! A girl there lives who’ll never be my spouse! O Bard, dear friend, you understand my grief. Alone, my mind and heart can find relief. 1310 I would not bear to see again that witch, who chew my love and spat it in a ditch.’ ‘Your words that pour despair seem true, but they are false: no man alone can dare to live, because love calls. A heart like yours is rare: a great bell is, that tolls in you and makes you stare at women in the halls. 1320 As you, I like to see their beauty, close to art: they make our senses flee, through sight they throw a dart; without them, we can’t be: they are of us a part. She simply was the right one for some other. Come back with me, I’ll be your younger brother.’ ‘I want, I need to talk to her, before I come back home, where I have left my core.’ 1330 ‘We’ll bring her here. You simply have to wait. If you return, we’ll have a joy so great!’ ‘A moment, friend. Not taken is my will. I may decide to stay where am I, still.’ ‘I know, I know. So tense must be your nerves. But you’re the Knight, the man your reign deserves! I might go home and then, with her, return. ‘You all must go or else, you know, I’d burn.’ ‘All right, but be prepared for your decision. I know you’ll come, it’s certain as a vision. 1340 Goodbye, great Knight. By holy light you’re shown. Before you’re old, you’ll have your golden throne.’ ‘My friend, goodbye. Be quick and fly up high… The bard now leaves. As fallen leaves I sigh. I fear to go back where I once did rule. I feel as obstinated as a mule: it’s perfect here, I have no fear at all. To stay I long, I feel no strong recall. Inside my cave I feel so brave! But right is that I bring to men, as King, my light. 1350 It’s hard to make this choice. My friends will find the correct answer, hidden now: I’m blind.’ The six did fly for one whole day again. They could not know what lies inside my pen… Their fate is sealed. They’ll soon be full of terror without a sin or any kind of error… I want to rise in you anxiety: their guilt all lies inside society. Just wait and see what I have chosen for those men. Let’s go again through pages’ door. 1360 The Dragon landed by the city wall. The door was open, so they enter’d all. The city was in turmoil: shrieking boys, the clash of weapons… any kind of noise; all people ran as waves, their sea did roar. ‘But what… The city seems in state of war!’ A voice rose up amongst this great confusion: ‘Are those the men or it’s a mere illusion?’ ‘It’s them! Call here the guards! They’ll take them to the King Hafald, who’ll choose what we must do!’ 1370 ‘What name you say? Hafald? It sound unknown!’ ‘Well, he’s the King, he’s taken your old throne!’ ‘The only King, who rules by choice divine, is the Last Knight! Your man is just a swine!’ ‘Blasphemous man! You’ll taste his vengeance sour! Arrest them, guards! Like poison words they pour!’ The men were tied and beaten worse than porks. Their people’s laughter was their Caudine Forks. The horror of those faces in the crowd: a demon’s mow, an ocean roaring loud. 1380 Those minutes lasted hours in their minds. That inner time can change, is known by hinds. The flag was not wind-beaten any more. They trembled as they passed the castle door. The servants looked at them with angry eyes; their voices were like that of one who dies. The big staircase they climbed. It seemed so steep. The top of it was cloaked by darkness deep. ‘We’ve come!’ ‘Oh, well! Now, soldiers, let ‘em in!’ The squeaking door did play a mournful din. 1390 ‘I’m glad to see you, nobles! You I hold!’ Moustache, black eyes and hair, he seemed so bold. ‘I am the mastermind who leads the dance! Your lives are in my hands, without defence! As you may see, I’m now on top, you’re under!’ His voice got firm and loud: he spoke like thunder. ‘Hollow and dim is the future for you! Hidden in it is a sentence to Death. I am the helmsman who’s steering you thro’ water and ices, but blocked is the path. 1400 Now, with your women, you’ll die in my prisons slowly, with aches, because of starvation. Thus you will pay for the highest of treasons! Even the Saviour won’t give you salvation! I am the Law and the kingdom is mine. With the Last Knight, who’s the first of betrayers, you’ll find my bars and my chains that entwine. People is risen! All useless are prayers!’ ‘You say you come from people: how can they have chosen you? Not long they will obey. 1410 With your ideals, you wish to seem «romantic», but you are just insane, unlawful, frantic.’ ‘That’s what you say, with your wisdom and culture! False are your words and morality now! I am the hunter that slays the old vulture. Power to people, you nobles must bow! Kneel or yor head will be cut by my blade! Justice, respect for each person’s opinion: this is Republic, that soon will be made! Dead is your ancient, illegal dominion!’ 1420 ‘But don’t you realise we’ve always given an answer? By all subjects we were driven! You know that here a King must choose the next, his follower: it’s written in the Text, the Constitution; thus, each King is wise. The Last Knight was the best, so he did rise. The choice is always hard, but also good: no King has ever had an evil mood.’ ‘Yes, but the last one has fled: he was wrong. Now, I’ve been chosen by women and men, 1430 not by one person: my power is strong. Take them to prison! I’m winning again!’ The guards were rough. They brought them underground, where water dripped from ceilings with a sound that never stopped and could drive men insane: to someone’s mind, it was like acid rain. ‘Well here we are. Get in and meet your women. For you there are no signals of good omen. This prison in the castle is the price you have to pay for centuries of vice, 1440 of exploitation of the working classes. Hafald, the leader chosen by the masses, has set us free: he’ll find the Knight, once king, and we will bring his corpse to you. I sing: We have conquered freedom, the sun is shining high; long will live this nation, no more we have to sigh. Peace will last forever, the battle was so hard; 1450 we don’t need religion, a man is now the guard. Questions find their answers, the rebels have the knife; nothing more is certain and so we relish Life. All we need is pleasure and now that we are free we are led by Justice to find what’s good to see. 1460 Nothing is immoral, but just against the Law; days are full of beauty. No thing beyond we know, Man needs no transcendence, the weight of daily toil lighter seems, and money we make from fruits of soil.’ ‘It’s terrible! Beyond the utmost bound of human thought, you heard the gloomy sound 1470 of Nothingness, and now you need just pleasure. But don’t you think that Nature gives some measure?’ ‘Shut up! How dare you speak? You’ll feel my Hell! No saving spell will open you this cell! Farewell, you «nobles»! Worse you are than mice! And know that Death has won you all at dice!’ The door was shut in front of them and locked. ‘Until you die by me you will be mocked! I have some torture new for you to know… You’ll learn to sing the sombre notes of woe!’ 1480 They laughed and went away. A woman spoke: ‘They’ve tried already to choke us with smoke.’ A beam of light came down to show Radyell. ‘Then you are here!’ ‘We have some things to tell.’ The wet an darkened room did sound with cheers; a sudden joy had swept away all fears. ‘At least we’re not alone!’ ‘But still inside these viscid walls! The sky and sun they hide!’ ‘It would be good to punish sin or crime, but we’re not guilty! Why are we in slime? 1490 Because a madman stole the throne. He used the day when you had left; we were accused of treason, high, against, they said, the state.’ ‘And now we’re here and death will be our fate! They give no food, just water: hunger bites. We’ll never see again our happy sites!’ ‘Don’t be so negative! We’ll find a way to flee, one day! In prison we can’t stay!’ ‘I fear your hopeful words are bound to fail. Nobody ever left this hidden jail!’ 1500 ‘And then we’ll be the first!’ ‘I wish to think the same, but every minute hope does shrink!’ ‘But thirst of freedom won’t be stopped until we leave this place! And firm must be our will!’ ‘We know that freedom is a need that lies inside each human soul. It’s like a tree: we have the seed and it can grow with our control. By laws of Nature it is led. We eat its fruit when we break chains 1510 that tie without a reason; fed we are, the feeling then remains. The stronger are the chains that tie, the more we like when we’re set free; we have to suffer and to cry, but we can make this destiny.’ ‘Good bard, your words can stop the pain, but tragic the situation is: we need the help of magic.’ ‘You need not magic, but an alchemist! I might prepare a thing no lock resists.’ 1520 ‘But can you find the ingredients right here?’ ‘I don’t know yet, this is my greatest fear.’ ‘And as we leave they’ll find us very soon!’ ‘We’ll flee in darkness: clouds, no star, no moon.’ ‘Our future cannot be a noose of rope or, worse, starvation: still we have some hope!’ ‘O Bard, I did not know you had some skill as alchemist! With hope my heart you fill!’ ‘You call for hope, but free we are not yet! One day not set, by us may Death be met!’ 1530 ‘And think about the Knight, who should be here! He won’t appear: the end is drawing near!’ A cloak of fear did cover them once more. The hand of Fear besieged and seized each core. They thought about the Knight, so far away, still safe and free: and thus they spent the day. Part VI – The Turning Point

Another morning came on them and him, the Knight, awake when still the sky was dim. Not late came dawn; the Knight did yawn and chill. ‘Be quick they must or turn to dust I will.’ 1540 He dived in rills as fresh as winds that blew around his cave, and felt his strength come new. ‘Goodbye, sweet home where long I did abide! My land is wide, no longer I shall hide! My friends are coming: they are taking me back home. I’ll see my castle. I’ll be free from passion that, since I have met Radyell, has burned my soul: I can control it well. Oh, how I want to see my little things! I cannot wait! O Dragon, spread your wings! 1550 I have become a man more strong and wise. No woman’s haunting me. I must arise!’ Nobody came. He could not know the reason, but he believed it was a sign of treason. ‘My friends, why don’t you come? I feel betrayed! My heart is torn! I wonder why I prayed!’ But then he thought that something had befallen. ‘How can it be? The Dragon must have fallen! I know them well, too well for me to think that they don’t want to come. My bones do shrink 1560 as I imagine that they won’t arrive. In darkness gushing from my heart I dive! They can’t be dead! They’re not in Heaven’s room! …And now I suffer deeply for their doom. My destiny is always full of pain because of Love and Friendship: life they drain, but they have made me stronger than before; inside my core I stand the whole life’s roar. My sky by night is lit by tears, not stars: each act of life has left inside its scars. 1570 I’m breathing ice, all things in black I paint, I’m weeping stones, I’m sweating blood, I faint. Am I pathetic? Well, I’m feeling numb, but never to my pain I shall succumb. I simply have to wait, it won’t be long, I must be strong and sing a happy song. Some person says that ancient days recalled in mind are sweet, as fresh as rain that falls from leaves, they help you in the heat. 1580 Oblivion’s hands are full of dust, on which we cannot feed; the fruits of memory are good, a thing we always need. You should remember yesterday, it is your only certainty: the past is always on the way, to live, you need your memories. I lived in pain, it comes again and still I suffer so 1590 that I feel cursed: no saint’s with me, I don’t know where to go. Some drop of joy, when I was a boy, is lovely to remind, but many scenes are horrible: they should be left behind. You must remember yesterday, it is your only certainty; the past is always on the way, to think, from it you can’t be free. 1600 Even sad memories are good: they show that we can face the sufferings that Fortune brings: we lived through the disgrace. They give new hope, new force, new life, without them we can’t do: I want to be with memory, I hope you’re coming too. We must remember yesterday, it is the only certainty; 1610 the past is always on the way, with every one, with you and me. It’s true that of the past we can’t get rid: it’s something we are forcèd to live with. I’m here, alive, I’ve gone through all despair, but still I dare to face the wind unfair. I’m here, alive, but utterly alone, like God who rules this world upon His throne, like Everything, His reign, Totality, Infinity, what Was and what Will Be: 1620 the sum of all existing things is one, I’m one, alone, like, over there, the Sun. There is no meaning for the number Two: this point of view is strange, but can be true. The others are too distant to be seen, the eye can see inside and there be keen, outside there’s nothing to be found at all, that’s why my hopes of love had better fall. Sometimes we try to show our inner parts, but words and arts can’t reach the minds and hearts. 1630 Attempts to show the souls are bound to fail, like any human gesture: there’s no sail to cross the deepest oceans of mankind, we always have to leave all hopes behind. The colours of the light across a prism are eaten by the black of Pessimism: then what’s life for, if there can be no mirth? An evil act is, giving children birth! A single thing is certain: we must die, they, you and I: there’s not a thing to try. 1640 There even might be not a God: the dust would rule the «lives», and Pleasure, tied with Lust, would be the only thing worth living for, but there’s no Pleasure for mankind, no more. What can be good? Lust, money, food, love, art? Since we are born, all hopes are torn apart. I’m drowning in the gloom of Nothingness, I soon will die, I cannot bear this stress. There’s silence in my heart. But… what I hear? A voice is clear! I see a light appear! 1650 It’s Mother Nature talking to her son!’ «My dear, by grief unseen you can’t be won! Why do birds sing? And why do trees still grow? And four winds blow? And why do rivers flow? You have the greatest gift: you live! You use your body, heart and mind, but oh! the blues are holding you so close to suicide! I’m now your guide, since other hopes have died. Please listen well: your thought is free to fly, but you’ll lose just your body when you die. 1660 Don’t think too much ‘bout things so far away! Remember: stay on earth or you will pay!» ‘Good mother, you’ve just saved a human life! The search of food’s the only useful strife!’ There was a woman, dressed with leaves all green, her eyes like sea were blue, she seemed a queen, her skin was white like clouds, her lips like fire were red; she spoke: «What’s left of your desire? You also need a child, who’ll follow thee: you need a woman! Listen, Knight, to me!» 1670 ‘You’re right again, but I must wait: my land is distant, still I need your helping hand!’ ‘You certainly have promises to keep and miles to go before the fatal sleep, but, my dear son, my work is done: it’s you who had to pay much since the day you flew down here, in this luxurious, fruitful plain; I only had to help you win the pain. I have restored your hope: this was my aim; you have to claim your kingdom, your old name. 1680 Remember: you’re the Last Knight, you’re a king! You have a mission into which to fling!’ ‘Good mother, I thank thee: you heal the wound I had before, when for a girl I moon’d. Alas, why have my friends been led astray? Why don’t they come? No longer I must pay!’ If only he could see where they were kept! The women wept, not one of them had slept. ‘We’re going to die in this metallic cage!’ ‘These bars can not be broken by my rage.’ 1690 ‘We’re doomed, we can’t survive!’ ‘Shut up and think!’ ‘How can we think? We have not slept a wink!’ ‘And it is long since we last had a meal! We’re starving and can’t dream: this is what’s real.’ ‘Why don’t we take those mushrooms on the wall? They might be good!’ ‘Or they may kill us all.’ ‘About the mushrooms once I read a book: I know a bit, so let me take a look.’ Some looked at them: their colours were so bright; with feeble light they gleamed in that deep night. 1700 The sun had just set down and other stars came out and shone beyond the window bars; inside the mushrooms, green and yellow, shone: they showed themselves upon the wall of stone. Another light awoke inside one brain: ‘We’ve got the key! No longer we’ll remain!’ All voices muttered with a great surprise: ‘What do you mean?!’ ‘What do you say?!’ ‘Not lies! I’ve heard about those fungi: they make spores that dissolve steel, the metal of these doors!’ 1710 ‘You’re right: these acid mushrooms can’t be eaten, but, with their strength, the doors can down be beaten!’ It seemed to them that night was not so dark. ‘To make them work, we also need a spark. We need a source of intense energy or they won’t start their work to set us free.’ ‘I know the stones: we might find some good ones that work like flint and steel.’ ‘Get them at once!’ ‘Well, this is not as easy as it seems: these stone are rare and…’ ‘Please don’t kill our dreams! 1720 With all these words, the chords of Hope you touch!’ ‘I’m still afraid that I can not do much, but I must try to play the symphony of joy inside your hearts that must break free.’ As one picked up the fungi, th’other searched: as he found nothing first, his senses lurched, then he found that he had a steely belt and, trying again, a piece of flint he felt. ‘I have the stone and steel!’ ‘This is good news! We soon won’t any longer be recluse!’ 1730 …Dear reader, is this happening too fast? This tale is coming from an ancient past: nobody knows the Truth, because the ages have blown it far away from these good pages. It is not Truth, but Beauty what I follow: did I not so, these pages would be hollow. I needed to invent some stratagem, a tiny, useful lie, to set free them. Please look beyond the single facts I tell: a higher story lies inside this shell. 1740 I ask you to suspend your disbelief; but I go back, as silent as a thief, to tell the small events, report the speeches and see those distant lands that my soul reaches. …And please forgive the fact that I don’t use the name of those who act: my lonesome Muse just tells me what is happening, but not the one who speaks or does expand the plot. I wonder why she does it; well, it seems to me that this is similar to dreams. 1750 Except some case, and you can find them well, the will to use the name I always quell: this is a way to make you think that all the characters can do what doth befall, or say the words that sink inside your eyes and thence can touch your inner chords and rise. This may be seen as real equality; but let’s return to facts, eventually! The mushrooms, better: fungi, were prepared; they were excited and their hopes they shared. 1760 ‘Take this!’ ‘Help me remove this piece of steel!’ ‘We are to spread the sails of Freedom’s keel!’ ‘To keep this firm, I need that piece of wood!’ ‘I have good hands!’ ‘As any woman should!’ ‘How can I do?’ ‘It’s not within my ken!’ A lot of words like these were wasted then. ‘Let’s try again!’ ‘Oh, wait! We have a torch!’ ‘Quick, take it here, before your hand you scorch!’ They managed to illuminate the room: this broke the darkness and their inner gloom. 1770 ‘Are we all sure of this? I still feel loth.’ ‘Come on, my friend, it’s not the time for sloth!’ ‘Give me a spark! There is no need of fire!’ ‘We’re going to fly, like birds that in the sky are!’ ‘A saint took pity on my soul! The boulder, the cross I had, is taken off my shoulder!’ ‘We have some skil and knowledge built at school and, with this tool, that tyrant we can fool!’ ‘It works! It works! We are deliverèd!’ ‘I cry!’ ‘Why do you cry? I laugh instead!’ 1780 ‘We have fulfilled a dream!’ ‘Be silent, hush! Mayhap there is a guard that hears! Out rush!’ Part VII – The Path to Freedom

They left the cell and its bad smell without a voice or sound; they trod a ground still stout, but they were free again, like me and you. ‘And now, my mates? I don’t know what to do!’ ‘I either don’t: this is a perfect riddle!’ ‘Well, of a corridor we’re in the middle!’ ‘You think that we should move, don’t you think so?’ ‘This cannot certainly be cause of woe!’ 1790 ‘Let not a doubt disturb this good sensation: I taste the fruit of freedom I can’t ration.’ ‘Then, bard, your words were true: one day you said that by the fruit of freedom we are fed, and that we feel the taste reveal when we break chains and ties; now, dead the cries, we’re free.’ ‘You’re right. This moment sweeps the times of grey. I think I’d play what words will never say.’ ‘It’s not the time for Music or Poesy: it’s time to think, and quick, what do should we!’ 1800 ‘We must enthrone the Knight again and kill the tyrant named Hafald: this is my will.’ ‘You’re partly right: that man should not be slain, he ought to feel the sum of all our pain. We must restore the legal royal signs and send to prison who’s outside the lines.’ ‘Yet there’s a fascination in that man I can’t explain, some thing beyond my ken.’ ‘Like any rebel, he doth have a charm: you feel him as he can’t do any harm, 1810 you feel his strength, his power, his appeal, you feel him as a kind of saviour, real. We know that his success on sand is built. He thinks that there should be no sense of guilt, he says that his own human laws are good, he pays his wishes, following his mood. He does not know that impulses can lie: just think of when you want a man to die. The force of reason must mediate desires, pour icy water on the hottest fires.’ 1820 ‘But not alone should reason be the guide, for there’s a shade that cometh: it doth stride and it is known as Death, to Life opposed. To flee from it, we cannot keep hearts closed, lest we’d annihilate the human pleasure we can enjoy within the correct measure. There’s something good that can be seized on earth, when we’re alive: this light is known as Mirth.’ ‘Stop speaking, we must move at once from here!’ ‘Where do we have to go? This is not clear!’ 1830 ‘I think that we should find the beast of gold, the Dragon: this in future I behold. We have to take the King Last Knight back home and let his gold destroy the tyrant’s chrome. These metals look the same, they both are yellow, but just the former one is rich and mellow.’ ‘The Dragon must be held in places safe!’ ‘He can’t be tied by chains: just let him chafe!’ ‘He certainly is strong: his strength we need to sow the seed of God, the saving creed. 1840 Without a God whose law and light is guide, there’d be no shelter under which to hide, no time, no place where human race could grow, no certainty, no way to be we’d know.’ ‘This speech is going to distant lands, forlorn, unknown to Man: now stop, or thee I’ll scorn.’ ‘You’re right: my ignorance is still too great, ‘tis not the time to open a debate.’ ‘Then let us go outside these mourning halls! These bars and walls still whisper sombre calls.’ 1850 They moved as silent as the growing grass and, one by one, the doors they found did pass. As underground they were, they met a staircase: a step still dry on it was such a rare case that one by one they walkèd, in a row: and thus they came from those bad walls below. ‘Now that we’ve left the prisons, what is next?’ By some deep sense of lost they still were vexed. ‘How much I’d pay to find a way that leads outside! I shed my tears of lead: these beads 1860 are cutting deep my face, that sleep so needs. As I live still, I must fulfil my deeds, but nothing in this castle can be done: we have to leave from here and we must run!’ ‘We must go here, we must go there, we need some fresh new air, one time again we have to dare. We need the Dragon, great, to find the Last Knight ere it is too late, to cross the sky, blue gate. 1870 Alone, alone, he’s all alone and stolen is his throne, but we’re in panic and we moan. Uncertainty we feel: we all felt free, but this is not yet real; let’s move without a reel! We need the help of one good man: we’ve left the frying pan, into the fire we can’t sink again! We need a spy, a guide, 1880 a man to trust in, on the correct side, in whom does Law abide. I think we need the help of old Asthore, who ought to have the key of every door.’ ‘Of course! Asthore! A loyal servant, he! I bet he knows a perfect way to flee!’ ‘And he can tell us what has happened since we were imprisoned by that false, black prince. I mean Hafald, who’s Evil turned to flesh, whose demon army is prepared to clash 1890 against the Last Knight, who shall fight this Hell, this false dominion, made by He who fell. Black blood shall slowly flow in sinuous rills, when they are met upon the Fatal Hills; and when we see the signs of Victory, then Peace shall be throughout the land and sea.’ ‘You are exalting him a bit, aren’t you?’ ‘What do you mean? I simply say what’s true! The Knight is strong and pure and he can win the man who brought on Earth the age of sin.’ 1900 ‘He seems the Saviour, in your mighty word!’ ‘He’s just a Knight, a servant of the Lord. His deeds shall show the Law, not what he says; he shall avenge the horror of those days when we were kept unjustly in a prison; we suffer’d as the saints, but for no reason. He’ll show the power of a moral mortal, who, with his pain, of Hell had passed the portal. And men shall sing of him who did escape and left his power to a shrieking ape, 1910 of how he found that he had made an error, to expiate with many weeks of terror, and of his triumphal return as King: the Knight shall rule again, this men shall sing. This part’s not written yet, but soon shall be: let’s try to turn it to reality!’ They knew where good Asthore was; there they went and found him, who the castle better kent. Asthore, astonished, could not realise what that could mean: they were a big surprise. 1920 ‘What do the masters want from me, I ask? What can I offer? Empty is my flask!’ ‘We need the help of thine to leave this place: you know it as the wrinkles on your face.’ ‘They need the help of mine! What can be done? There is the Darkness, covering the Sun: this is the help they need. What can I give? A man that showeth them a way to leave.’ ‘What’s known by thee about the beast that flies?’ ‘They mean the Dragon? Hear I do his cries. 1930 He suffereth, for he’s imprisonèd. Out of my window let your sight be led.’ They lookèd down and there the beast did sleep. ‘He’s not the kind of thing that chains can keep, but he hath not yet wanted to break loose: it seemeth that his hope the beast did lose.’ ‘Is there a way to make ourselves get down?’ The others at the man who spoke did frown. ‘I hope I have not heard a crazy man!’ ‘Why don’t we try? It is a perfect plan!’ 1940 ‘But tell me how you think to climb the wall! We have no rope, or any thing at all!’ ‘There’s some upon that shelf, but it’s too short: we have no way to leave this stolen court!’ In that same time, the Dragon heard them speak. ‘Is this the voice of those whose heart is meek? It seemeth not my torturer, not him who gives me grief, but oh! the voice is dim…’ His eye he opened and he took a glance: the night was cold, a heavy wind did dance, 1950 but, coming from a window, he could see a light and hear a voice that gave him glee. ‘It must be them, the noblemen, the friends of the Last Knight, the King who all defends!’ The nobles heard this mutter from afar and spoke loud: ‘Dragon, say, awake you are?’ ‘I am! I can’t believe it’s really you! You make me happy, after days of rue!’ ‘We must take back the King upon his throne! We need your help to find the Knight, alone.’ 1960 Their voices sounded loud throughout the air: they made some men awake from dreams so fair. As long as they were confusèd by sleep, they had to creep and on the Dragon leap. ‘Arise you Dragon! Let your potent wings be no more held by heavy, rusty strings! And harken: soon will come the men with bows, we must escape before the red blood flows!’ There were the noises of a coming war: the sound of feet all tramping on the floor, 1970 the sound of weapons, gradually more loud. ‘Be quick! We cannot face the armèd crowd!’ ‘These vincula, these gyves, shall soon be broken. We are to see again the golden token, the symbol of the King since days of yore. The flag, now lower’d, spoilt has been by gore, for its defenders have encounterèd a pain and grief unknown, or now are dead; but it shall come again beneath the clouds, that shall be white again, not black like shrouds.’ 1980 The Dragon felt his blood begin to boil: his heavy feet well planted on the soil, he gatherèd his rage: he blasted flames that melted up his chains. ‘The blocks he maims! The morbid, sombre arms that did entwine the Dragon have been cut by flames that shine!’ ‘Climb down the window, quick! We cannot stay! We cannot lose this chance to go away!’ The Dragon lifted up; upon his back the eighteen fell; no archer did attack. 1990 ‘All right, let’s go!’ ‘No, wait! We need a thing: the Holy Sword, the weapon of the King!’ ‘Oh, no! I am afraid that you are right! It is as if we given had our plight. A Knight, a King without his sword is bare: it must be taken from the tyrant’s lair.’ ‘Inside the throne room still it ought to be!’ ‘Then let’s go there: we have to set it free!’ ‘Surprise is what we have, our only card: we have to play it ere they take their guard.’ 2000 The Dragon, with that burden, flied so slow that fear and tension in their hearts did grow. ‘Be quick! We have to reach the window, big, up there or we should start our graves to dig!’ ‘You’re heavy, men and women! You’re not mice! So please shut up: don’t make me say it twice!’ Those moments lasted years because the tension inside their veins expanded that dimension. Each beat of wings was like an agony; the air was cold much more than it could be; 2010 the thoughts and memories of many years condensèd in their souls and turn’d to fears. The meaning of Existence they were finding: it’s like a road that’s narrow, steep and winding, the ‘what I wish’ against the ‘what I can’, the Duty and the Pleasure of a man that always fight and seldom come to peace: when this befalls, of Heaven there’s a piece. They were upon the edge of the abyss: by doves or ravens would they get a kiss? 2020 Not mouth, but heavy claws the Dragon laid upon the crystal window highly paid. ‘The window’s gone: we need a volunteer to slide down, take the Sword and come back here.’ ‘I am the closest one: to try I claim!’ ‘But you’re a dame! This would be cause of shame!’ ‘She’s right. I deem that she should try to go. Be realistic and don’t answer «No».’ ‘And what’s the shame if she is not a male? You think that she is weak and thus shall fail!?’ 2030 ‘But Courtesy compels a man to risk his life instead of hers, although she’s brisk.’ ‘The Courtesy of you is really grand, but understand that she’s the saving hand: she can slide down the wing, find out the Sword and come back here with it before the horde of enemies arrives with its crossbows and shoots at us. The sand of time still flows so quickly that we cannot waste our time: do what you must do now, it is no crime!’ 2040 Like cats agile, the girl fragile seemed not. She leapt along the wing as if ‘twas hot, went through the window and, to her surprise, found no one there. ‘Where do you think it lies?’ ‘It should be not so distant from the throne…’ Hung to the wall it was: it stood alone. ‘It’s here! I deem that it doth gleam a light. ‘Tis strange to view: is it due to its might? Its power must be very great, indeed.’ ‘Shut up! Come here or, wounded, soon we’ll bleed.’ 2050 ‘All right, I come.’ She took it: it was warm. Surprisingly, it took another form: it was a wind that put her on her seat. ‘My comrades, I suggest a quick retreat!’ The wind returned to be the Holy Sword. The Dragon moved, but then they heard a word: ‘Attack!’ A thousand darts and arrows fled and blood began to fall in drops of red. ‘The Dragon has been hit! Alas! Please, fly!’ ‘I must: I will do it, until I die.’ 2060 ‘Unless the darts all hit: you need a shell.’ They heard a sound like tolling of a bell: a lightning cut the blue sky like a blade, its shininess did clear the Dragon’s shade, and then from Heaven they did hear a call: ‘The Holy Sword, the Sword of Miracle, shall be your shield and weapon: you won’t die, I, Gabriel, do lead you from the sky.’ The Holy Sword became a shield of steel: a sense of immense power they did feel. 2070 ‘We need not fear, an Angel’s by our side; and now let’s ride the sky, we can’t abide!’ The clouds did break, a mighty wind did blow; they were a sail, a stream of air did flow. The Hope, from feeble as the webs of spiders, was growing stronger in the eighteen riders. They had a Guide, who saw them from afar, beyond the signs of Man and every star: they did not know that, little time ahead, without this guiding they would all be dead. 2080 They flied across the clouds as fast as sound, they could not even see down there the ground; they flied across the night beneath stars scary; at their arrival, they were all weary. Part VIII – The Final Triumph

The Knight had spent those days without a rest, awake all days till then when, from the west, he saw the Dragon great materialising, completed by the Sun that then was rising. Symmetrically perfect was that scene: two mighty lights together could be seen. 2090 The Knight did feel this power in the air by breathing, he could sense it everywhere. Like from chrysalides come butterflies, from ugly things come wonders of the skies, in all his might the King Last Knight arose. He screamed to his companions coming close: ‘This morning washes all my pain away. Two Suns I see: this is a glorious day!’ He jumped around. He seemed a bit insane, but that exalting joy who could contain? 2100 His time had come to leave that lonesome place, go home again and save the human race. He heard inside the sound of violins, of harps, of bells and flutes, playing merry dins. ‘We have with us the Holy Sword for you!’ ‘I felt its presence. Can you feel it, too? There’s something magic in the air today, I feel I’m watched by something I can’t say…’ ‘There’s Gabriel who watches from above!’ ‘Of an Archangel I can feel the Love! 2110 I think that something unbelievable, like mighty facts of legends, shall befall! …But we are wasting time! I have a mission: I must compel Hafald to yield demission! He can’t stay any longer on my seat, my throne: he is the man I must defeat. With you, my friends, forever by my side, I shall return as King; I must not hide. I have become a wiser man and sadder. I want to ride with you. Send down a ladder!’ 2120 ‘The Holy Sword shall turn into a rope: you should not grope, but stride, at least I hope.’ The Sword had no mutation. ‘Come on, change! It does not seem to work: this is so strange.’ ‘Disaster is impending: I can taste it in the wind. Get down, good Dragon, haste!’ Indeed this was the truth: the sky went dark completely, of the Sun they saw no mark, and then appeared an army from afar. A voice did crumble: ‘This is where you are!’ 2130 ‘Hafald! This is your voice! What’s happening?’ ‘Some blood was dripping from the Dragon’s wing: it showed the road that easily has led me and my army here. You are all dead!’ ‘There’s nothing written yet! I can destroy your army without flinching, silly boy! Give me the Holy Sword!’ His hands did seize the hilt; the blade was lifted; fresh, a breeze did blow upon his face: ‘This is a sign that God’s with me: the Victory is mine!’ 2140 The Knight ran to the army still approaching. The heavy ground he trod was slowly poaching, it was as if the Angel built a road to let him run, and it was growing broad. A halo of pure light enfolded him: he dived into the army and did swim. The Holy Sword and him were just one thing: they mowed the foemen all where he did fling. The noblemen themselves were in a sphere of light, like the Last Knight: they had no fear. 2150 Hafald could not be seen, but just be heard. There came a crow, an evil-telling bird; Hafald’s voice came from it, as dark and deep as black volcanoes whence doth lava creep: ‘I summon thee, the Angel First who fell; I worship thee, unlock the Gates of Hell!’ The wind became a gust of smoke and sand as hot as Hell: the storm did scorch the land. The Earth began to quake: it crack’d, it growl’d, it roar’d, it howl’d, it moan’d as if it prowl’d. 2160 The wounded planet bled and from below the shrieks of demons came; then fell a snow not white, but black, that burnt the men Hafald had brought with him. The Knight, who could behold these poor men, suffering entirely, killed them, as only Death could set them free. Then slowly came the demons from the holes: black things, not humans, made of hate and doles. One came from down the nobles; luckily, the globe of light was safe. They just could see 2170 the Knight that kept on fighting like before: the demons, though more tough, did live no more. ‘The demons keep emerging from the chasms! The Knight needs help or he’ll be killed by spasms!’ ‘In my opinion we should kill the crow! It is the one who summons from below the demons, it has opened Hell’s big door, it makes the tides come furious on the shore. We ought to kill the source of evil things, arising from the land where no bird sings.’ 2180 They managed to pick up a piece of rock. ‘Go, stone, and give the bird a fatal shock!’ The crow was unaware of what they’d said: it could not see the stone that split its head. No one averr’d they’d kill’d a bird of God: ‘tis right to slay the birds if they seek blood. It cried, it screamed, it roared, it seemed the Beast, the Devil, or the Ocean’s roar at least. The demons screamed with it, the ground did shake as agonising once again: the stake 2190 was won, they had defeated it who made the demons rise, they stopped the black parade. ‘What have you done, my friends?’ ‘We’ve killed the bird that was Hafald!’ ‘Then Victory I’ve heard! These sounds, horrific, herald the defeat of Hell! So now the demons must retreat!’ The sordid, viscid things of black were leaving. ‘I want them all, I cannot keep them living! O Sword, become a rope and take me down! I have the force to steal the Devil’s crown!’ 2200 ‘Remember: close the doors of Hell, before another army comes that seeks for gore! The Devil might send up some other fiend! You have to stop this mad satanic wind!’ ‘Of course! They might feel close to win, not fail! You have to stop the Devil’s thrashing flail!’ A bursting voice did scream a dark command with sentences no one could understand, but it did seem a sign that fed their fear: the demons still alive did stop. ‘It’s clear, 2210 we’re right!’ The Knight killed them, then he did enter a crack that led down to of Earth the centre. The sword did turn into a heavy rope. The Knight began to leap along a slope. ‘The Holy Sword is certainly a key!’ The Knight went fast, no more they him could see. The rope was strongly tied and growing tense, but it was firm and tough, a good defence against the force of gravity, attracting the Knight towards a Hell that still was acting. 2220 A snap: the rope was torn! ‘Oh, no! He fell!’ ‘It can’t be so! We’d hear a mourning bell!’ From down below a feeble light did glow. ‘Are you alive?’ They heard his answer: ‘No!’ ‘Good Heavens! We were thinking you as dead! You know, from here we saw the broken tread…’ ‘I cannot die, not now! The end is near! I’m close to clear the Evil and the Fear!’ The Devil is so strong, but I can win and from this world I might exile the Sin! 2230 If Victory’s not mine, we’ll see the reign of Hell, that means in Life eternal Pain. Now let me plunge into the depths of Earth, just like the water flows into a firth. The scenery is horrible indeed, I must resist and stop the cursèd breed.’ He ran across a corridor of stones with angles sharp that tried to break his bones. The rope had turned into the Sword again: it gave protection like a talisman. 2240 Without it, he’d be burnt by all the heat. A vivid red, the colour he did meet, was even in the air because of ashes that gleamed, like evil tiny eyes, with flashes. The narrow tunnel seemed to have no end. Around, the rocks did scream sounds that offend. Sweat fell upon his brow like grains of hail, his face was pale, no breath he did exhale. The magic halo wrapping him did melt the rocks that closing were, and safe he felt. 2250 ‘I have the Holy Sword, I have the skill and God’s with me: the mission I’ll fulfil.’ He entered wide a hole; there was the Door, engraved with shapes that my mind can’t explore: they were imbued with terror, pain and sorrow. ‘I’m here! Lucifer’s plan has no tomorrow!’ He gather’d up his strengths to win the strain and close the door that leads to Hell, the reign where humans without Moral lose the Soul, the ones who their obsessions can’t control. 2260 A snake came quickly out and bit his arm! He bleeded! Satan was the cause of harm: the snake who Eve seduced had bitten him; he grasped and threw it, but his eyes went dim. He closed his eyes; forgetting his sensation, he pulled the door beyond which is Damnation. A voice of utter rage did scream his name. ‘Return to your eternal burning flame!’ He could not bear all this and long he cried, then took a glance… and found himself outside. 2270 ‘I’m… shedding tears!’ ‘This soil they’ll irrigate.’ ‘Now be the triumph: happiness can’t wait! ‘You right are: I have nothing to atone, I must go home and fill my empty throne!’ The dragon, tired, found in happiness the force to make the flight back home, I guess. The citizens saw them still far away: ‘The King returns! Be this a merry day!’ In glorious pump, by petals of the roses they were saluted: all pulled up their noses 2280 to see the splendid Dragon land before the castle, and ‘We live just for your core!’ the people said. ‘I thank you. I feel weak, but I declare to celebrate one week!’ Be there just joy and feasts! This is my house! One day I’ll be completed by a spouse, but I’m alone no longer! Thanks to you!’ The feastful seven nights and days, they flew, and in the morning of the seventh day the Knight had disappeared. ‘He’s gone away!’ 2290 ‘Impossible! He can’t have gone so far!’ ‘A legend says that he might be a star…’ ‘His Fate’s some where in time, some when in space, not here, not now: no more is this his place. He’s gone, he’s left this world: he cannot rest, he’s needed elsewhere, he’s the Knight, the Last.’ So arid is the vein of my invention that now the time has come to leave this mansion; but something still is moving by the gate that leads to this mysterious world that rends 2300 asunder: there’s a figure, someone great, it is the King Last Knight! He understands that he must leave to face elsewhere his fate, but he’ll be back: the story never ends. (2304)